Difficulties Arise Showing Proof of Workplace Exposure to Coronavirus in Worker’s Compensation Claims
Jul 13, 2020
Pennsauken, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) July 13, 2020 – Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance required by employers in Pennsylvania to cover work-related injuries or illness employees sustain. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides medical benefits, disability benefits, and wage compensation to injured workers until they are able to return to work. If an employee dies from his or her work-related injury or illness, workers’ compensation death benefits are paid to the appropriate beneficiaries of the deceased employee.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States was in January 2020. To minimize the risk of exposure, social distancing guidelines were put in place in March of 2020 leading to the closing of businesses and close contact recreation venues. Essential workers in industries such as, healthcare, emergency services, banks, legal services and retail continued to go to work with the potential of workplace exposure to COVID-19.
In March 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry told workers that they may be eligible for worker’s compensation if they contract the virus. To be eligible, the employees must prove their injury or illness occurred in the workplace or during the course of employment. Proof is difficult because exposure to the disease can occur anywhere. An employer’s defense to workplace COVID-19 exposure is likely that the worker cannot guarantee that they contracted the illness at their place of work. If the employer denies the workers’ compensation claim, the employee can file an appeal to a workers’ compensation judge. However, the employee must still prove that is it more likely than not that he or she contracted the coronavirus in the workplace.
Exposure to the coronavirus in the workplace falls under the occupational disease statute within the Pennsylvania worker’s compensation laws. Although the coronavirus is not specifically listed as an occupational disease, state law outlines the criteria for determining whether a disease is work-related. An employee may be able to show that they contracted COVID-19 in their workplace or in the course of their employment, if they can establish that:
* The exposure to the disease was due to their employment;
* The disease is connected to the employee’s industry or occupation; and
* The disease occurs substantially more in the employee’s industry or occupation than it does in the general public.
Establishing the connection of the disease to the employer can be a high bar to overcome. It may be easier for employees in certain industries to show a connection between contracting the disease and type of employment, such as the healthcare industry.
The law firm of Petrillo & Goldberg has assembled a compassionate team of attorneys who have dedicated their career to ensuring that New Jersey work injury victims recover the compensation they deserve. The work injury lawyers at Petrillo & Goldberg deal with the insurance companies so employees can focus on recovering, returning to work and moving forward with their life. To learn more, visit https://www.petrilloandgoldberg.com, or call,856-249-9288 to schedule a free consultation.
Petrillo & Goldberg Law
6951 North Park Drive
Pennsauken, NJ 08109
19 South 21st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
70 South Broad Street
Woodbury, NJ 08096
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